Jag launches 4x4s

Jaguar has landed a light but important punch on the nose of Audi and other premium rivals with the launch of all-wheel drive versions of the XF and XJ. We’ll have to applaud from afar however, because the cars, with their subtle 3.0 AWD badging, aren’t coming to the UK.

AWD system paired with blown V6
AWD system paired with blown V6
The reason, Jag says, is that AWD accounts for just five per cent of the UK luxury saloon market. That’s compared to about a third of the US market, where 80 per cent of these are heading. The rest will be split between Russia and continental Europe.

As if to make that point, the only engine variant to get the AWD set-up the 340hp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol. So for us, the X-type remains the only all-wheel-drive Jaguar (there’s a statement begging to be disproved).

Of course this system is a lot more sophisticated than the permanent ‘Traction 4’ system on X-Type.

The eight-speed auto box has been fitted with a transfer case with an electronically operated coupling that can direct up to 50 per cent of the torque to the front wheels if slip is detected.

Half the torque can be sent to the front
Half the torque can be sent to the front
That detection is the work of sensors on everything from the wheels to the steering wheel and is long way from the old viscous coupling on the original X-Types (even that got binned for later AWD models). Jaguar reckons there is no penalty in terms of ride quality, agility or driver enjoyment and has given the AWD cars new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars up front. There’s also a new steering knuckle to better replicate the feedback of rear-wheel-drive cars. It doesn’t impact on fuel economy too much: 29mpg versus 30mpg on the XF.

We spoke to Theo Gassmann, director of advanced engineering at globally renowned (and British) driveshaft and transmission makers GKN to ask exactly what good AWD systems do. “You can reduce oversteering tendency in slippery conditions,” he tells us. “It means less brake intervention to stabilise the car.”

Most AWD versions will be sold in US
Most AWD versions will be sold in US
Essentially, he says, there’s less lift-off oversteer coming into a corner and less power oversteer coming out. Not great for the likes of Harris, but then these are luxury barges. Audi of course is the master at this, offering Quattro on four engines for the A6 and every engine on the A8 in the UK, among others. BMW is expected to add xDrive versions (operating a very similar system to Jaguar) on its 3 Series in the autumn and maybe the 5 Series next year.

Currently Mercedes doesn’t offer any 4matic saloons or estates either – okay, the R-Class – but the forthcoming AMG A-Class will be AWD.

So, good news if you root for Jaguar as a company, less exciting if you’re in the market for a less scrabbly luxury saloon this winter.

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (61) Join the discussion on the forum

  • theJT 17 Aug 2012

    The initial message was deleted from this topic on 17 August 2012 at 12:02

  • BuzzLightyear 17 Aug 2012

    Nail and head!

    ETA Ah, well that's a bit awkward.

  • Digga 17 Aug 2012

    I've been waiting for this - the crossover of LR 4x4 expertise into Jag. I've felt for a while that one facter that draws people out of luxo-barges and into 4x4s in winter grip. PLus, for the mad power outputs of the top-range models, we are reaching sensible limits for 2wd.

    I'm just thoroughly disappointented teh UK won't get a look in, given our roads and winters.

  • Frimley111R 17 Aug 2012

    How do they add all that weight and friction and only lose 1mpg?

  • Prof Prolapse 17 Aug 2012

    In reality though, and with my tin foil hat on, won't we really not be getting this car for the same reason we don't get the AWD BMW 3 series and 5 series sold in Europe?

    In Britain we're told they "don't do it in AWD", so just go off and buy the 4x4 instead. I.e. Something by Land Rover, at a larger margin for the company. As is the case of BMW the X1, X3, and X5?

    I know its a small market but I really don't believe its so difficult to convert it to RHD.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment